‘Acapulco Redux’ – Julien Desprez



When you only hear it without seeing it, it’s not easy to say that Julien Desprez plays electric guitar. This young French musician plays with a salutary spontaneity and many internal and external modifications on his instrument. Playing with his microphones, transforming the sound with pedals; it seems like his hands are tap-dancing on the chords. His live tracks sound like cut-up sounds, close to the so-called glitch music; reminding us of the Quebec techno producer Akufen alias Marc Leclair, with whom he shares the taste of jolting: his body almost dances when he plays and the relationship he has with his guitar can evoke the actions of a magician who would have hypnotised a tiger trainer.

‘Acapulco’ was born from a concept: to develop a musical form capable of receiving and bringing to life all sounds, from any field or musical aesthetic.

This idea led to an electric guitar solo which makes these different sound elements collide. An unconventional approach to the guitar, which evokes a dance, has been created by a mix of manual actions on the instrument coupled with footwork on the effect pedals. The body thus became central to ‘Acapulco’’s artistic quest.

The current aim is to build on this singularity in order to take it further. We focus our attention on all the elements which characterise our approach and have settled on radical lighting to extend ‘Acapulco’’s aesthetics: three very powerful and reactive white LED bars create an electric, electronic light that supports the musical meaning. Julien operates these three lamps with pedals, controlling the very simple, sliced, incisive light effects directly from the stage, as he does his music.

All pedals – musical and luminous – are scattered on the stage to create different spaces, depths and perspectives as well as make the artist move. This simple system chops up the flow of sound, time and space, and allows new musical densities to emerge. Music without taking space into account becomes unthinkable. Everything is connected.

However, everything can also be disconnected. Each sonorous, spatial, luminous and visual space can also, at once, detach itself from the rest to exist in a way that allows it to tell its own story.

Here, Julien draws from what he appears to be, but also what he hides, from what we hear, and where we hear it from. The performance is vivid, and exposes his fragility.

Performance for a musician, an electric guitar and a lighting system

‘Acapulco Redux’ is in line with the ‘Acapulco’ project created in 2013; it is a solo by Julien Desprez, born from his sonorous, corporeal and formal questioning during the past few years. A musical form which could welcome and bring to life a vast sound territory was developed by this first solo.

Through his footwork on the effect pedals and his inspiration from tap-dancing, Julien has developed, thanks to ‘Acapulco’, a unique guitar-playing technique. In this way, he has transcended the boundaries of the guitar to make a new instrument, blended with a drum kit or a human organ – a constantly evolving instrument, which goes beyond instrumental practice to evoke a dance.

Acapulco Redux’ extends these intentions by further questioning the physical and gestural relationship inherent to the guitar medium. In this new phase of the project, Julien plays a device which puts sound, space and light on an equal footing. The stakes of the performance are slightly displaced and the perspectives are multiplied. Tensions, ruptures, shocks – whatever they are composed of – create a singular space-time.

Julien Desprez :
On Stage : Guitar, lights, effects and performance of 30 – 40 min ‘Acapulco Redux
Grégory Edelein : Conception and direction
Cécile Guigny/Gregory Joubert : Re